- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There will be a day when Tony Romo will look back at what happened Sunday night inside Cowboys Stadium and smile about what he accomplished.
Since 2006, when he became the Dallas Cowboys' starting quarterback, Romo has gone from an overnight sensation to frustrating and overhyped to the team's only hope for success.
It's nights like Sunday, when he became the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown passes by surpassing Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, when you see the greatness that has been there far more than many people want to realize.
Romo threw three touchdown passes in the second half -- two to Dez Bryant, one to Miles Austin -- and finished his night 22-of-27 for 303 yards. He didn't throw an interception for the fourth time in five games and finished with a season-high passer rating of 150.5.
Most important to Romo, the Cowboys beat Philadelphia, 38-33, to remain in contention for a postseason spot with four games to play.
"I'm not trying to minimize anything," Romo said. "Really, you're just singularly focused on trying to bring a championship to this town and this organization. In that process, everything else kind of takes a back burner. We had a thing where we had to give our individual goals and our team goals. They were the same. It's just about bringing that championship to Dallas. I want that for so many people. That's why we commit to what we do. You just do all the little things and grind, and hopefully we'll be able to attain that."
Ultimately, that is how Romo will be judged. The quarterback he passed Sunday (Aikman) and the one who watched from a suite (Roger Staubach) set the standard by delivering five Super Bowls between them.
Romo has accepted that fate.
And he knows now is not the time to reflect on what he has accomplished.
"To me, I can still picture when he would walk out there when he first got on the Cowboys and the defensive coaches would just pull their hair out with frustration because they couldn't stop him on the field," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said of Romo. "They would say, 'Well, but he's got to play right, because he can't throw across the defense. He can't be shoving that ball up in the middle of these defensive players. That won't win in the NFL.'"
But that is how Romo has succeeded.
His record-breaking touchdown pass No. 166 was vintage Romo. The Eagles broke down the Cowboys' protection and blew up his initial read on a third-and-2. Romo rolled to his right and threw back across the field to Bryant, who covered 20 of the 23 yards on the ground with his speed.
"If you're in any discussion with [Aikman], you're doing something right," Romo said. "Obviously, that feels very rewarding."
It wouldn't have been as rewarding if the Cowboys had lost. Romo made sure that didn't happen, hitting Miles Austin for a 27-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter on a play-action pass (funny what happens to an offense when you can run the ball) and Bryant from 6 yards out with 5:35 to play.
Before the 168th touchdown pass of his career, however, Romo showed gumption with a third-and-2 pass to Bryant for 35 yards.
Trailing 27-24 thanks to a defense that had no answers for most of the game, Romo didn't take the easy way out. He saw the Eagles' best cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, lined up on Bryant with no help over the top.
"It can be a high percentage down-the-field throw if you have a good receiver, a good matchup and a guy that can deliver the ball," Romo said.
Romo delivered, and Bryant held on after taking a shot.
Four plays later the Cowboys took the lead for the first time when Romo checked out of a run for a quick pass to Bryant, who bulled his way through Rodgers-Cromartie.
It was Romo's 10th throw of the second half and his 10th completion.
"It did seem like he found his edge," tight end Jason Witten said. "He gets in that groove."
If it was a groove, Romo wasn't saying, deflecting that praise the same way he did the talk of breaking Aikman's record.
"It's everybody," Romo said, "not just anybody specifically. I can be going through my progressions and do all the same things, but if I don't have time it doesn't look as good. The guys, the way they played up front, the ability of the guys to make plays outside, that can dictate whether you think I might have been hot."
Romo was hot Sunday. The Cowboys will need more of that the rest of the way.
4hEric D. Williams
4hSharon Katz & Hank Gargiulo